As the Covid-19 virus pandemic continues to swathe paths of destruction and confusion around the world, it’s understandable that some actions related to “normal” life are overlooked. But Australian Fellow of the International Academy of Orthokeratology and Myopia Control (FIAOMC), Gary Rodney, said some things can’t simply be set aside without consequences. And among those are myopia management, regular maintenance of the lenses used in the Orthokeratology (Ortho-K) treatment programme, and being sure to replace them on schedule to avoid nasty consequences.
Rodney said some patients, caught in a world of lockdowns, economic difficulties and fears of contracting Covid19, have been missing their annual Ortho-K reassessment, when the lenses are routinely replaced. This could undo and even reverse any positive progress already achieved, and worse still, in cases of high myopia it could lead to serious vision impairment, and possible blindness, in the future.
Myopia – An Epidemic Within a Pandemic!
Rodney said nearsightedness (myopia) has been creating its own epidemic since long before the Covid-19 pandemic made its appearance. By the end of this year, it is estimated that one of every three people worldwide will be suffering from this vision impairment, and every second person by 2050. And there is no known cure for it.
That’s why, according to Rodney, the Ortho-K treatment which aims at slowing down the progression of the impairment, is so important. Specially as it has had positive results in more than 60% of cases. But for it to achieve these results, patients’ involvement in replacing lenses on schedule, and sticking to the lens care model developed by Smart Vision optometry clinics in Sydney are vital.
How Ortho-K works
Ortho-K treatment uses oxygen-permeable corneal lenses. Slightly flatter than normal contacts, they assist in the management of nearsightedness (myopia) as well as some other eye problems like astigmatism and hyperopia (farsightedness).
The lenses gently reshape the cornea using the slight pressure created by a thin layer of tears which forms under them. Used only while sleeping, they can do away with the need to wear spectacles or contact lenses during daylight hours by temporary correction of the myopia. However, this correction is not permanent, according to Rodney, and it could also be reversed if the lenses aren’t worn regularly, kept hygienically clean, and replaced as and when required.
The Consequences of Leaving Replacement Too Long
If not replaced every 12 months, Rodney says the lenses could change their shape slightly, lose the polish on the edges, and develop fine scratches on the surface of the lens. This could cause them to rub against the cornea or irritate it, creating inflammation of the corneal surface. The surface scratches may hold pathogens which even the disinfectant solution used to keep the lenses clean, might not be able to stop. And should small breaks in the surface of the cells allowed the pathogens entry, these could threaten both the patient’s eye sight and, very rarely, their lives.
Rodney said it was also important that even in the midst of Covid-19 confusion, with its own set of safety rules, other lens maintenance and safety steps should be taken.
One of the most important rules is that these lenses should not be worn if the patient’s eyes are red.
With regard to cleaning and inserting the lenses at night, the main rule is similar to that applied to the virus: Wash your hands! Hands should be washed very thoroughly using soap and water and dried with a clean paper towel before the lenses or eyelids are touched.
Tap water should not be used on the lenses or lens case, as it can carry pathogens, Rodney said. Instead fresh solutions of Hydrogen peroxide AO Sept or Menicare Plus should be used to disinfect them every day. To ensure hygienic case care, the lens case should be discarded and replaced every time the bottle of solution runs dry.
Aware of the current predicament people find themselves in with the COVED-19 risk, but also knowing the importance of lens care and replacement, Rodney said appropriate safety precautions had been introduced at the three Smart Vision optometry clinics in Sydney to protect both patient and optometrist during Ortho-K reassessments.
Smart Vision Optometry clinics in Sydney focus on providing eye care for a number of vision problems with particular focus on children and myopia, and on determining the best treatment for each case. Visit the Smart Vision website: Optometrists Sydney: Optometry Services For Children and Adults | Smart Vision to find more information provided by the Smart Vision behavioural optometrists and for information on the precautions applied during COVID-19.
Click here to book an appointment online or Call the Bondi clinic on (02) 9365 5047, or the Mosman clinic on (02) 9969 1600.